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Parents concerned following attempted abduction near Billings elementary school

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 11:36:23-05

BILLINGS - Parents said they were unsettled Wednesday night after Billings school officials notified them earlier in the day of a possible abduction attempt near a South Side elementary school.

“It’s terrifying. That’s every parent’s worst fear,” said Whitney Barth, who has two students at Orchard Elementary.

Barth is just one of the thousands of parents who received the call from the school district. The attempted abduction happened just about two blocks from her home at the intersection of Jackson Street and Orrel Drive.

“I always tell my kids you have to be careful. It’s so important to let people know where you’re at,” she explained.

In a recorded message sent to parents, school officials said they were notified Wednesday morning that an incident happened Tuesday after school a few blocks from Orchard Elementary School.

The message said an adult in a white van attempted to grab an elementary student.

"At this time we have no identifiable information with the van and police continue to investigate the situation," the message states. "Please take the necessary precautions with your student."

Wednesday marked the last day of school before the holiday break for students in the Billings School District. Some parents say the news definitely has them feeling unsettled.

Q2 News tracked down the mother of the child at the center of the attempted abduction. She did not want to publicly identify herself but told Q2 her fifth-grade daughter rushed home Tuesday, claiming a man with a mustache in a white van got out of the passenger side of the vehicle and tried to grab her while she was tying her shoe.

The child told Q2 News she kicked the man and ran away after he said, “You’re coming with me.”

Billings police say they are trying to vet the girl’s story and added they’re taking the claim seriously.

Regardless, parents like Whitney Barth are on edge, nervous that a predator could be out there.

“It definitely stinks that you live in fear in your own neighborhood,” Barth said.